Upcoming Event

The State Museum to Open New Exhibit on Sulphur Dell Dig and Presents Free Lecture

An exhibition showcasing archaeological discoveries found prior to the construction of the First Tennessee Park will open at the Tennessee State Museum on August 15. These findings, dating to about 800 years ago, center around Nashville’s first industry — salt.

A leading authority on saltworks in antiquity, Dr. Ian W. Brown, will give a free public lecture on the exhibit's opening day, Saturday, August 15, at 2 p.m. Dr. Brown is the Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. His keynote lecture, Salt in Prehistory and History, will address the role of salt and salt production in world history and prehistoric times.

The exhibition will feature objects found by archeologists during the excavation of the land where the new First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team, now stands. Museum curator Dr. Rex Weeks has organized the exhibit, which interprets the history of the Sulphur Dell site. Some of the artifacts include pottery and tools.

This exhibit and lecture was supported in part by a grant from Metro Nashville.

Dr. Brown became interested in this subject in the late 1970s while working on Avery Island in Louisiana. His experience there culminated with his writing of a monograph on salt production and use among the Indians of eastern North America. This is also the subject of a major volume authored by Brown, which was recently released by the Louisiana Archaeological Society as a Special Publication, The Petite Anse Project: Archaeological Investigations along the West-Central Coast of Louisiana 1978-1979.

It is important to note that salt is more than just a condiment, according to Dr. Brown. Although it figures prominently in foodways throughout the world, its production and use extends far beyond the realm of cuisine. Salt is arguably one of the most significant mineral resources with regard to human societies. Ancient salines, where brine bubbles forth from the ground, were highly valued by peoples of the past and, as such, were often closely guarded, according to Dr. Brown.

Salt has had many other usages beyond diet. It has often performed a social function, as in Medieval Europe where salt was a symbol of fraternity. In other regions of the world, salt has been employed in the cleaning, bleaching, and dyeing of fabrics, in the leather industry, in the working of precious metals, in the conservation of oils, in mummification, and even in cheese-making. One of its prime functions has been to preserve meat and fish. If the old adage is true that an army “moves on its belly,” then it was salt that preserved the food to fill the belly. Drawing from experience in the U.S., England, Germany and China, Dr. Brown's talk will offer a glimpse as to why salt is integral to our understanding of the past.

There is no admission charge for the exhibition or the lecture.

Photo caption: A sketch by artist Carlyle Urello. It illustrates a small detail of the 30 by 80 inch color painting that will be the centerpiece of the new exhibition opening on August 15.

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org